My baby bump is here to stay, y’all. I’m officially to the point where the bump is basically impossible to hide. Also, if I look straight down I can no longer see my lady parts. Grooming takes some maneuvering (and it’s basically a hope-I-don’t-slice-myself-open, here-goes-nothing situation by the last few weeks of the pregnancy haha!). Anyway, with a growing belly inevitably comes the ridiculous comments by complete strangers. “You’re only that far along and already that big?!” “Are you having twins?” “That’s going to be a big baby!” or “You’ve still got a long way to go”. During my first pregnancy, I just let it go. Always polite, I would kindly smile and nod my head before walking away wanting to cry.
This time around, though, I have NO tolerance for it. If you are early in your pregnancy and you haven’t experienced this yet, I just want to be prepared because unfortunately, it’s coming. It could be a little old lady on the sidewalk or yes, even your partner or parents. I swear people must not know what a baby bump really looks like or they must forget because the comments will start coming as early as 4 or 5 months especially with your second or third. When I was pregnant with Lily, I would let the comments eat me alive. I didn’t know what was going to happen after she was born, so I would worry that I really was huge and that I would be in terrible shape after delivering. It’s unbelievable what a person, especially a woman, will say about another woman’s baby bump.
Around 7 months with Lily, Andy and I took maternity photos. I wore this beautiful pink maternity dress and loved one of the photos I got back. One of our female family members was talking to Andy about the photo on speaker phone and didn’t know I was there. She said, “OH MY GOD, Katie is HUGE.” You guys, I seriously started crying instantly. Here I was so in love with this special photo and enjoying my baby bump and the whole process of pregnancy and I totally had the rug pulled out from under me. I felt like I was a monster like I was doing something so horrible to my baby by being that big. But, here’s the thing: It’s not like I could just work out and diet and lose the weight. I still had TWO more months to go and I was only going to keep getting bigger. In fact, most women gain most rapidly in the last weeks because the baby is growing so much. I remember being so conscious about how I looked while putting on my clothes every day and it really started to ruin the love I had for my changing body. The comments didn’t stop after that either. It felt like at least once a week someone would say something unkind. You get more super sweet comments than bad ones but, of course, we remember the bad stuff more than the good. People tell you how beautiful you look but others (I swear its mostly complete strangers!) will ask how far along you are and if you don’t say 9 months they can’t believe the size of your belly.
Fast forward to this pregnancy. We’re at a food festival this weekend in Atlanta and I’m wearing a cute form-fitting midi dress. My baby bump is probably about the same size as this time last pregnancy, maybe a little bigger but overall, I’m in MUCH better shape. I still have some abdominal definition and I weighed 8 pounds less before this pregnancy than I did before my first. I feel a little bigger than I’d like to when I think of having almost 4 months left, but I know its normal. We stopped at the festival to let Lily pet a dog and a woman probably around my mom’s age stopped me and said: “Aw when are you due?”. I respond with February and she has this SHOCKED look on her face and says “OH my god!”. I instantly get a sour face and say “what?” and I can tell she realized she was about to cross a line. She says, “Oh, well I mean you’re so tiny besides your tummy but you still have a really long time to go.” Thank GOD my child and husband were there because I was soooo close to losing my mind. I politely said my bump is right on track and very normal for a second pregnancy. She apologized and said she didn’t mean to offend me and even apologized to Andy, but I just couldn’t help how annoyed I was. This time around, though, I didn’t get self-conscious or sad. I was just purely annoyed and honestly angry that people have the audacity to comment on a pregnant woman’s shape. As if there is anything we can do about having an expanding belly. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are women who gain an excessive amount of weight which is most certainly unhealthy. But, let’s be real, I’m 145 pounds right now which means even with a 5-month baby bump I’m in a perfect weight range for a woman my size. I can tell you that although I enjoy treating myself a few times a week, I work out HARD and I eat better than the majority of people (pregnant or not) in this country. I mean, that really means that people have lost their minds. There is a couple of reasons why I don’t let the comments phase me anymore and if you’re a first-time mommy, it’s SO important for you to read this…
I, like a lot of women, said: “I’m totally only gaining 25 pounds during this pregnancy” with my first. I told myself, “I’m going to work out, eat well and take care of myself.” Well, let me tell you, I was so wrong. I’m telling you honestly, you can do all of the things I mentioned above and still gain more than you planned. I really believe that some babies and some mommies just require a little more weight. I remember stepping on the scale towards the end of the first pregnancy and realizing I had already gained 38 pounds. I vowed after that to not pay attention to the scale because at that point there was really nothing I could do about it. I’m sure I gained at least 40 to 45 pounds. However; at every midwife appointment I was assured that I was right on track and the baby bump and I were trucking along wonderfully. At the time of her birth, Lily was almost NINE pounds! So yes, mama needed a little extra cooking room for my big girl. I think we all knew by looking at my 300-pound 6-foot-3 husband that a big baby was inevitable. And now, for the part you were waiting for, how long did it take to lose the weight? I lost all but three pounds of that weight by THREE WEEKS postpartum. No joke. I may have felt huge or been disappointed by how much weight I gained but if that isn’t proof that my body needed all that weight, I don’t know what is. I have talked to countless mamas with the same experience, too. Women who were fit and thin saying they gained anywhere from 50-70 pounds and dropped it almost immediately. For transparencies sake, I do have to say I gained some of that weight back during the first year postpartum, mainly due to the stress of raising a colicky baby and postpartum depression. I did eventually lose it all again plus 8 extra pounds, though!
I’m not saying you should lay around and eat junk and not work out. Quite the opposite. More and more studies are being published that prove the importance of proper nutrition and exercise during pregnancy, including brain benefits for baby and direct impacts on their long-term health and weight. But, the truth is that you can do all the right things and you may still gain more than you planned. As long as you stay on track and take good care of yourself during your pregnancy, you will absolutely be able to lose the weight. It may not be in 3 weeks like me, but over the following year postpartum your body will come back to you and you will be surprised how much of yourself you can get back. I was in better shape before my second pregnancy than I have EVER been in my life. Sure, there was still a tiny bit of loose skin on my belly but I was just about the only person who would notice it. Keep listening to your health care providers guidelines and do the best you can to exercise and eat well, but past that there is little you can do to control what happens to your body. Unfortunately, that will not be enough to stop those annoying comments from strangers and loved ones, but YOU can rest assured that you are perfect and should continue to love every inch of your incredible body. Don’t feel bad about telling a stranger off, either. They should be made aware that their comments aren’t welcomed or appropriate. Remember, you are creating a LIFE inside of you. Your body is strong, beautiful, resilient and incredibly powerful. Wear form-fitting dresses and stare at yourself in the mirror, mama, because you will miss that little (or BIG) baby bump when it’s gone.
Your turn to share! Tell me, what is the craziest thing someone has said to you while you’ve been pregnant? Did you gain a lot of weight or less than you expected? How long did it take to lose the weight after giving birth? Can’t wait to hear your stories!